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1 Media Placement, 4 Target Audiences (At Least)

Imagine you’re a Vice President of Communications. Your company has just received top-level industry awards for product capabilities, customer service, and employee experience. You need to get the word out fast to continue accelerating organizational credibility, name recognition, and financial growth.


As your social media, graphics, and advertising teams are putting together months of content which will incorporate the awards, your media team is also trying to reach important stakeholders through press releases and interviews. But unlike social media or your newsletter, it’s not as simple as putting out content to create engagement and start people down your sales funnel.

That’s because media exposure requires getting through at least four target audiences to even begin creating worthwhile engagement:

1. The person who signs off on the media content in the first place. That might be you, as VP. It might also be any of the other C-Suite executives who are just as likely to act as spokespeople and decision-makers on key media content. The message has to be framed the right way to further the organization narrative and stay true to the spokesperson’s voice. For example, you may have a spokesperson who can conduct an amazing e-mail interview waiting for a plane – but who is too shy for TV or radio.

Additionally, are you reaching the right media people at the right outlets? A CPA firm’s head of HR probably won’t be happy explaining your employee retention strategy to a political podcaster.

2. The gatekeeper. Once you’ve gotten the internal sign-off, it’s time to convince producers, editors, reporters, and show hosts that your content matters. While all media outreach must include the Three Ts, there are other factors to consider when these decision-makers are receiving hundreds of pitches every day, such as:

  • Who are you targeting? Every gatekeeper has different responsibilities and goals. Reporters need to get stories out, while editors are splitting attention between writing, editing and assigning. Hosts are often hard to reach, while producers are protective of their boss’ time and brand.
  • What kind of placement are you seeking? Sending a piece of written content to be published by a TV producer is embarrassing. It’s also a waste of everyone’s time.
  • How does the gatekeeper prefer to be reached? Some like Direct Messages on X (formerly Twitter), while others prefer e-mail.
  • How skilled is your media relations team at crafting pitches that stand out on both relevance and style?

3. The outlet’s immediate audience. These are the people whom the gatekeepers have allowed you to reach. Just as with gatekeepers, each audience is going to need a tailored approach. Be nerdy with niche audiences – they expect you to show how your awards add value to the industry. On the other extreme, everyday readers will need you to keep things simpler.

4. The end entities to be influenced. This audience isn’t always present – sometimes, you just want people to consume your media coverage and become customers/employees/investors, etc. At other times, you may want an outlet’s immediate audience to influence corporate or government actions. Whether you’re ginning up ticket sales for an event, raising brand awareness for a product, or moving the public to vote or engage on a policy matter, your placement has a purpose.

Your final audience is also the first. Your C-Suite must be convinced that the placement is right before you send a pitch. And after all audiences have been reached via the initial placement, downstream coverage, republishings, newsletter and round-up citations, and even used as marketing collateral on social, newsletters, and owned media – they must be convinced again that it was the right call.

It’s not your grandfather’s earned media world, which is why we always say that press is good – but surround-sound marketing & branding is better.

A version of this piece was originally published by Dustin Siggins at PR News Online.